Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2009 | 2:30 a.m.
Ryan Greene and Christine Killimayer, back safely from Wyoming, discuss what went wrong for the Rebels in a 30-27 loss to Wyoming, then take a look at how it translates forward for Mike Sanford's 2-2 club. Plus, Dan Hinxman of the Reno Gazette-Journal chimes in to offer some insight on UNR, who UNLV faces up in Reno this weekend in a must-win for both sides.
- Opponent: UNR
- Date: Oct. 3, 1 p.m. Vegas time
- Where: Reno
- TV: None
- Radio: ESPN Radio 1100 AM
- Line: UNR by 3.5
What others are saying
Read what other writers are saying about UNLV's upcoming game against UNR:
- San Jose Mercury News: Nevada likely without starting RB Taua vs. UNLV
- Reno Gazette-Journal: Wolf Pack Football: The Sunday Review
- Reno Gazette-Journal: Nevada stuck in neutral with third loss
- Nevada Sagebrush: Records don’t matter: Rivarly week is here
- Nevada Sagebrush: UNR-Nevada Southern rivalry has legacy of hijinks
Editor's note: Each Monday, UNLV football coach Mike Sanford meets with the media to discuss last weekend's action and next weekend's matchup. So each week the Sun will bring you notes and quotes discussing both.
The 'don't dwell' approach already worked once early on in the 2009 season for the UNLV football team.
Now, coach Mike Sanford is hoping it works again. The Rebels have to rebound in a big way from a disappointing 30-27 upset defeat at Wyoming in time to face rival UNR this weekend.
One measure Sanford is taking in trying to narrow his team's focus is by limiting their exposure to the media.
In an effort to give his team "one voice" and to limit distractions, speaking for the program this week will be Sanford, junior linebacker Starr Fuimaono and senior receiver Ryan Wolfe.
"I know that's a little out of the ordinary, but I think it's important so our players aren't distracted this week, and that's important," Sanford said.
Sanford said the quasi-muzzle on his squad this week had nothing to do with comments a couple of his players made following Saturday's game suggesting that some of the players were a little too "comfortable" entering the Mountain West Conference opener at War Memorial Stadium in Laramie.
"I think those were emotional statements made after an emotional, frustrating loss," Sanford said. "We lost the game because we had four turnovers and they had none."
The change in game week routine comes in easily the most crucial preparation period the Rebels have had so far this season.
At 2-2, they are entering a treacherous portion of the '09 slate, which in the coming weeks includes the trip to Reno, followed by back-to-back home dates against conference heavyweights BYU and Utah.
Don't let the goose egg fool you
Before the 2009 season started, many expected UNR to be a potential BCS buster.
Now at 0-3, that buzz has been completely silenced. Chris Ault's club opened the season with a 35-0 shutout loss at Notre Dame, and since then lost on the road to Colorado State (35-20) and at home Friday night to Missouri (31-21).
But the Wolf Pack is still dangerous, especially to a UNLV team that hasn't defeated its rival up north since 2004.
"Reno is a much better football team than their record," Sanford said. "(Colin) Kaepernick is a very good quarterback. The guy from Hawaii was good, but I think this is by far the best quarterback we will have faced so far."
That "guy from Hawaii" — Greg Alexander — had an offensive field day with the Rebels, as did Oregon State's Sean Canfield and Wyoming's Austyn Carta-Samuels.
UNLV currently ranks 101st out of 120 FBS teams in pass defense, allowing 255.5 yards per game.
Kaepernick, however, hurt the Rebels a year ago in multiple ways.
In UNR's 49-27 thrashing of UNLV at Sam Boyd Stadium last September, Kaepernick threw for 176 yards and two touchdowns on just 11 completions, while he ran for 240 yards on 18 attempts, including scoring runs of 4, 28 and 66 yards.
So far this season, he only has two touchdown passes compared to four interceptions and 209 rushing yards in three games. But UNLV won't respect him any less.
"Last year, the biggest problem we had stopping him was running option football," Sanford recalled. "We used a special defensive scheme last year, and it was too different from our normal defensive scheme. We're gonna do what we do, be who we are, but we've got to tackle him and be able to defend him on the option, because we didn't do that last year."
The biggest injury focus this week will include junior quarterback Omar Clayton.
He left War Memorial Stadium for the team bus on Saturday with an ice pack wrapped around his right shoulder, saying it was hurt on a second half touchdown drive that concluded with an 18-yard scoring strike to Ryan Wolfe.
Sanford said it will be monitored this week and a decision on his status will be made later on. He also reported that Clayton slightly reaggravated a right knee injury — a strained PCL — that he suffered against Oregon State.
As for senior receiver Rodelin Anthony, who is recovering from a concussion suffered on kick coverage against Hawaii that kept him from making the Wyoming trip, he is still listed as questionable.
One positive note, however, is in regard to junior safety Alex De Giacomo, who has fully recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him out against Hawaii.